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Crop Diversification in Malawi

Crop Diversification in Malawi | Geography Education | Scoop.it

"The tiny black-eyed pea is about to wage battle in Malawi.  The small country in southeast Africa is the site of a project to help with food security, nutrition and income.  Western University researchers are among those who will work with 30,000 farmers to help diversify crops into protein-rich legumes, such as the black-eyed pea, a popular type of cow pea in Malawi."

Seth Dixon's insight:

Tags: food, agriculture, Africa, Malawi, unit 5 agriculture.

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Lauren Jacquez's curator insight, March 14, 2013 3:48 PM

Review for you!

Seth Dixon's comment, March 15, 2013 8:44 PM
A good friend of mine is currently working for USAID in Malawi. This is what he had to say: I think crop diversification is really important here in Malawi. Most farmers have a heavy reliance on maize,which results in reduced hunger but there continues to be persistent malnutrition among children as their diets consist of mostly maize.Almost everyone here grows maize, you might be a school teacher or a health worker, but you are also most likely growing maize as well. Farmers are very risk averse here, so introducing a new crop takes time, finding the few willing to experiment and then using them to show their neighbors of the benefits. Other organizations are working on crop diversification here in Malawi, the US government, Catholic Relief Services, and other international development partners. Although not spelled out in the article, the majority of farmers are actually women, and agricultural production is typically for household subsistence with minimal cash cropping. As crop diversification increases, cash crops will provide more resources for families to pay for education and health for their families, but probably more importantly families will start diversifying their nutritional intake beyond maize. In a country where 42% of under 5 children are stunted, this will be a positive development. My wife was just out in the South of the country with CRS and was seeing some of the work that they are doing towards crop diversification as a result of USAID funding. She was really impressed to see how different vulnerable groups have been targeted by similar programs. She was able to see changes in rural villages in very insecure food zones. She saw how those lead farmers, willing to adopt new techniques or diversify crops, plant cash crops, etc, are reaping the benefits. Their neighbors are seeing it in action and are now adopting the techniques. It is not an immediate adoption, you have to give it time. These people are very risk averse, when set backs aren't just an inconvenience, but translate into starvation, it is understandable why it takes time. It also makes it more impressive when you find those willing to take the risks and try to set aside some land for a new crop. I am sure my agricultural colleagues would have more sophisticated answers but just some of my personal thoughts/observations."
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